I’d say most of my work is behind the computer in my pajamas looking like a hot mess. But one of the most vital parts of my career is networking. The thing that scares most people and seems like the “extra” part of any good client building practice. But as i’ve started my business over in 4 states and Florida really hit the ground running, and grateful for a contract job where it’s part of the job to network i have to say.. it’s not just “nice” to have networking, it’s part of the job. In fact, if you don’t dedicate offline-in person networking, your business will not be as far along as it could. I’m saying this while still knowing i have a long ways to go. I’ve lived in Panama City Beach for two years, and even after working my butt off in person, it really takes relationship building, time, and consistent face to face to build reputation, trust, and cliente. Not just with friends, but people you look up to, aspire to get knowledge from.. ya know.. the ones that make you feel uncomfortable to email or call.. yup… those ones. It’s absolutely necessary. This is a light kick in the butt for those with businesses or careers where finding clients is essential. (which, honestly all the business cards i’ve collected, is even MORE prominent that i grasped until this last year)
As many of you claim not to read as much because you’re “lacking time” (btw how’s all those tv shows you’re caught up with?) I have a little writing exercise for you. How many hours per week do you spend OFFLINE in person networking? If you haven’t planned it out and made it a priority, i highly suggest you do now. Not only will building relationships over time help your business, but it gets you in front of people in the industry longer, giving pointers, practice for interviews and reaching out, and you never know who they can connect you with in the future. It’s always better to continue relationships and have something come your way, then to network out of desperation asking for a hand out.
We all have something to give.I don’t network with the intention that they’ll be my client, i’m hoping at some point we can work together, or if the relationship is strong enough, they’ll connect me with another business woman or future client. I network with intention to learn and give back. I want to be able to give what i have to help the people i reach out to. I also go knowing every person has something to teach me, and i’m all ears in personal and business growth.
Just a little reminder even if you don’t have a career that you NEED networking, it’s vital for relationship building, character building, connections, and getting over the fear of reaching out. (Though sometimes i take a deep breath before sending a first contact email) Networking online is great, but in person is always more effective. so reach out to 5 people this week that scare you a little. Offer to get them a cup of a coffee and pick their brain, or start by attending a networking event. You never know.. you may be the person they’ve been looking for or they’re exactly what you were hoping too.
Be bold today. After all, I’m friends with the Waffle Queen, Sarah because i stalked her business and thought we’d work great together. Stalked might be a little heavy of a word.. but I do some research before i reach out to businesses i think would fit both benefit from.LOVE HER.
exercise: plan out your networking events for the week. reach out to 5 people or companies and offer to get together. Attend one networking event and write down how many hours you dedicate to networking a week… start with 2 hours per week offline. When you email or connect, it’s okay to feel like you’re gonna poop your pants. It’s SO scary at first, it’ll get easier.
A little book suggestion for you!